September 7, 2018

a peek at our 2nd grade homeschool plans...

our second grade homeschool plans | yourwishcake.com
We are three weeks into our homeschool year, and I wanted to make sure I made time to share our plans for curriculum and otherwise before too much time had passed. (Don't talk to me about how my baby is now nearly eight months old and I have yet to write her birth story. I have troubles.) Anyway, I'm always curious about what other homeschoolers are using with their children—especially because in this day and age there are approximately ten thousand different curriculum options—so hopefully someone out there finds this helpful or interesting or possibly weird because they think homeschooling is crazypants. (Friendly wave to the last group!)

If you're curious about what we did for Eisley's first grade year, here were the plans, and here is the post where I shared some reflections at the end of the school year. As for this fall, I had decided on most of what I wanted to do before summer even began (yes, I'm that mom who nerds out on planning curriculum way before the school year is even on the horizon). I was especially eager because I knew we'd be able to purchase many things we wouldn't normally be able to justify spending so much money on, as we had joined a charter school program for homeschoolers over the summer. 

The program is through a charter school called Valiant Prep and is open to homeschoolers in CA each summer. We were given $500 in funds to use on educational supplies, curriculum, field trips and classes. I kept it simple and spent just over $400 on curriculum, art supplies and other school supplies (glue sticks, pencils, etc.). This was a lot of money to spend, especially given I spent hardly anything on actual curriculum for Eisley's schooling up until this point. (I have relied heavily on the books we read, the library, and the huge number of free resources online.) Although the funds given were technically for continuing school throughout the summer, I knew anything I purchased would be used through the regular school year, as well, so I was sure to keep that in mind when I was selecting items to buy. I also wanted to stick to "consumable" items, because anything we couldn't write in or use up (for instance, a Kindle or regular books) would have to be returned when the summer program was over.

Throughout the summer, we had to do two check-ins via Skype with a teacher affiliated with the charter and give one sample of work for each meeting. (I ended up using Eisley's country study each month as one sample, and also had her write a few sentences about something she learned for a handwriting sample.) It was weirdly simple, and I kept wondering how it was possible to receive so much money in educational funds without needing to prove how we were using every little thing. At the risk of sounding trite, the whole thing was a huge blessing to us.

I've been hesitant to even consider using a charter for homeschooling (we are currently continuing to homeschool privately, which is an option that isn't available in all states within the US) but as the girls get older and we reach the point where we'd like to do more extracurricular activities or afford things like museum passes and such, then I feel it's something we would absolutely do. Our experience with this charter was just fantastic. We will take it year to year, but joining a charter is now an option I'm totally open to.

So, without further ado, here is an outline of our plans for Eisley's second grade year! (Prepare yourself for many words. I never promise to be brief.)

Language Arts
I'm absolutely giddy over two programs we were able to afford this year, thanks to funds from the charter school I mentioned earlier. I've wanted to purchase Brave Writer products before, but they're a little out of our price range. I purchased their Quiver of Arrows language arts program, which teaches lessons in all areas of language arts that go along with chapter book read-alouds that are assigned each month. It may be a little easy for Eisley (she's ahead in reading/writing skills) but I didn't want to get the more advanced program until next year. I also purchased Jot it Down, which is a creative writing course for the early elementary years. Both products are digital downloads, so I am having them printed through this website (the turnaround time is not the best, but I like supporting this company and you can't beat the pricing).

Math
I have decided to not be overly ambitious with math during these early years. Call me crazy, but making my child a mathematical genius (to the detriment of our own sanity) isn't really my jam. As long as we are doing math daily and Eisley is consistency hitting the standards for her grade level, then I'm a happy mama. I do a lot of math practice with her throughout the day that happens pretty organically (having her help me bake, working out math problems that relate to something we are doing/reading, counting money, telling time, etc.) but for our daily scheduled math work I did purchase this workbook from Amazon. There are some wildly expensive math programs out there, and this year I didn't want that to be my focus. Next year, I'd like to invest in a math curriculum that includes manipulatives and other such goodness that I will use with the other girls later on, as well. But this year, we are simply committing to quick, daily lessons that will keep us on track and not overwhelmed.

History/Geography/Science/Bible
Our big purchase (from our own pockets) this year was the My Father's World Adventures in U.S. History curriculum. This covers all the subjects listed above, and has a nice weekly schedule included. The schedule is set up for a 4-day school week with Fridays set aside for nature walks/study. This is the most we've ever spent on curriculum, but I can already tell it's absolutely worth it. We did get a nice discount, choosing the "basic" package, which didn't include the read-alouds (which we can get from the library), the art curriculum (which we purchased separately with charter funds), or the music appreciation curriculum (which we can do on our own). My mom recommended this curriculum to me because it was one of her favorite years of school with a younger sister of mine, and I'm so glad she pointed me in this direction!

Fine Arts/Music
We were able to get the I Can Do All Things art program with charter funds, and it has been a delight so far. Also, a family friend offered us a violin that we can use with Eisley for music lessons, so I'm toying with the idea of signing her up early next year—after the holidays, and after the rest of our homeschooling schedule is well established and I'm sure I can easily fit in something else.

Miscellany
Every morning, we spend 30-60 minutes (sometimes longer) doing Morning Time, which includes things like prayer, bible, poetry, memorization, read-alouds, daily Q&A, and other items. (I'll post more details about our routine later on!) For cursive, we are doing Handwriting Without Tears (and it's amazing how much she's learned even over the summer). As far as extracurriculars, we will continue with American Heritage Girls, which we adore. We lucked out in finding a large, well-established homeschool troop last year, and I can't speak highly enough of this scouting organization! I'm also signing Eisley up for a PE program for homeschoolers that introduces the kids to a variety of sports throughout the year, and I believe we will begin that in October.

We are taking a break from any sort of weekly homeschool co-op for a variety of reasons, but it's the best choice for us right now. I feel much calmer about many things this year, as opposed to years before. Having one "official" year of homeschooling under my belt is a huge relief—and I learned so much about keeping things simple and consistent. There are so many years ahead to fit in all we want to do...co-ops, dance classes, music lessons, art class, and other adventures. In this day and age, it's hard to remember that a seven year old is just a seven year old. My daughter doesn't have to do it all right now.

Interesting how I feel the same way about myself, and I'm thirty four. Ah, yes. It's a good reminder of us all, regardless of age and stage.

In any case, there you have it! My typically long-winded post on all things homeschooling. I'll be sharing more details about our routine and such later on, and aside from these posts I hope to find time to write more overall. If you have any questions about homeschooling, definitely ask away! My knowledge is (clearly) limited, but I'm more than happy to share what I've learned so far.

— Further reading: maybe I've always been a homeschool mom

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September 1, 2018

things I think about (when I have time to think)...

yourwishcake.com
Last month, I turned thirty-four. I keep thinking that I'm a little bit older or a little bit younger or perhaps in a completely different decade altogether. Once I hit thirty, it all kind of didn't matter anymore and I'm in a perpetual state of thirty-something (or trying to do some quick math when people ask me my age). I remember my mom once telling me how she never really feels her age—that she doesn't feel older, and it didn't make sense to me then. Mostly because I felt every additional year so intensely in my teens and early twenties. But now I get exactly what she was saying.

I even had to go to the actual DMV this year to renew my license in person, which meant there had been enough years since getting my last license to have had three different addresses, gained ten pounds, and possibly grown one inch in height. (For some reason, I can never remember if I'm 5'3" or 5'4". For the next decade I decided to go with the latter.) It's freeing to be at a place in life where I really didn't care that much about what my photo looked like, and to just sit there in the noisy DMV in an uncomfortable chair with a book, completely by myself.

For the record, I'm never by myself. "Me Time" right now sometimes looks like actually closing the bathroom door, or sitting on the kitchen floor while eating a handful of chocolate chips and hoping my kids don't hear me chewing, or staying up too late to watch Twilight: New Moon while silently judging myself.

//

It's recently become clear to me that I'm close to becoming a grumpy old lady. A curmudgeon, shall we say. Things bother me too much these days. I'm highly offended by things that probably should elicit such an emotional response; things like graffiti, politicization of children's picture books, the price of postage, people who don't use turn signals, the average inseam of teenagers' jean shorts. I'm bothered by so much. So much.

Yesterday, as I was spooning sweet potatoes into my youngest child's mouth, I told her I was considering becoming Amish and wondered what her thoughts were on the matter. She seemed open to the possibility, which I appreciated. But then, maybe it was just the sweet potatoes talking.

//

I'm at such an odd place in life. Just because my life is so much what I always wanted it to be, doesn't mean that it isn't hard. Or frustrating. Or lonely. Or simultaneously too much and too little. I think often about how motherhood is undervalued in our current culture, and it sometimes makes me feel invisible. It's that feeling of, Well, anyone can do what you do. It's just regular stuff. Why should we praise your for it? Why should we see it as virtuous? Many women do so much more. And then what always follow are the questions of, More importantly, are you sure you're making time for yourself...for self care, for your needs? Are you still actively taking steps to better yourself and following your own ambitions? (As if motherhood itself can never be an ambition for a woman, because she should aspire for greater things.) And then, at the same time, I think of how much I've grown in the last seven years of motherhood, and how it's actually been a good thing to not be the center of my own universe. How it's nice to get out of my own head and just get on with the day-to-day busyness of raising children and keeping my home and educating my daughters and all the other bits and pieces of my day.

But it is an odd place, nonetheless. There are days when I realize I've been awake for four hours and haven't yet looked in a mirror. (Sometimes this is for the best.) There are days when the only time I sit down from 6:30am to 8:00pm is to drive somewhere or to eat. (And there was a night last week when I ate my entire dinner standing up.) There are days when Jay is home and I dash away to complete an errand by myself, and as I soak up the quiet, I realize how weird it feels to be thinking my own thoughts—if that makes any sense at all.

There are many times I'm out with all three girls and someone passing by will mention how it looks like I really have my hands full. It's even better when it's a mom who tells me how much she misses those days herself. How her kids are now teenagers or in college or parents themselves, and how she truly misses having them be little.

//

I think a lot about writing. I wonder what it would be like if I could even find the time to type up a couple paragraphs every day to publish here. To have it be a little bit like it used to be, back when blogs were so simple. I think maybe I could do that, but some days I have so much to accomplish within the span of one day that the very idea of adding anything at all (even something that I truly love) makes me wildly overwhelmed. Still, it's something I think about.

June 26, 2018

recent craftiness: felt heart roll...

felt roll-up | yourwishcake.com
I threw together this little felt project a couple months ago and am just now getting around to posting about it. My oldest is actually out of the house this afternoon and the two littles are napping, so there is this eerie quiet in the house that I'm not sure how to handle. Should I play some music? Listen to a political podcast? Watch Friends reruns on Netflix? Belt out Greatest Showman lyrics at a level that won't disturb the slumber currently happening upstairs?

Alas, I realize that I should probably sit down and put something on this blog that I miss terribly and always intend to pay more attention to. So, here I am. And I'm about to give you a very complicated tutorial that will be so detailed you won't even know what to do with yourself. Ready? Okay, good.

felt roll-up | yourwishcake.com
Step one: Cut a rectangle of felt.

Step two: Cut a rectangle of fabric that's a little bigger than the felt.

Step three: Sew a piece of ribbon to the outside of the fabric somewhere toward the middle, so when the project is rolled up you can tie it closed nicely.

Step four: Take the rectangle of fabric and fold over the edges of the fabric so that it is now the same size as the felt (you will want to iron the folds to make a nice crease).

Step five: Pin fabric and felt along the edges and sew a seam with a sewing machine. Don't talk to me about seam allowances because I will give you a blank stare.

Step six: Think that maybe this would be a good project to share on your blog, so maybe you should have taken step-by-step photos and measured things even a little bit. Realize it's too late. THERE'S NO TURNING BACK.

Step seven: Hot glue some sort of pom-pom ribbon stuff to the edges of the roll because it's cute and hot glue is fun and a little dangerous and who needs fingerprints, anyway?

Step eight: Cut a bunch of hearts out of your huge stash of felt bits and put them in the center of the felt roll. You could do two of each color heart, so it becomes a fun matching activity for toddlers. But don't worry about it, because by the time you finish it and give it to your toddler, they will have lost all interest and will be asking to watch an episode of Sofia the First.

Step nine: Roll it up and tie it up and go eat a cookie!

felt roll-up | yourwishcake.com
Ah, yes. I'm officially a craft blogger now. Don't you love the snapshot of me casually hot-gluing the pom-pom edging to the roll while wearing a super cute outfit and perfectly applied lipstick with sunshine streaming through the window behind me while my kids are mysteriously not attached to my body?

(If I sound jealous of craft bloggers, it's because I'm jealous of craft bloggers. True story.)

felt roll-up | yourwishcake.com
Regardless, I'm weirdly proud this little project, and had visions of making dozens to sell on Etsy. (Remember when I had an Etsy store? Memory lane, yo.) I'd like to make a few more to give as gifts, though. If I get extremely ambitious, maybe I'll make a handful to put in the Busy Bags we have for the children at church. 

What sort of things would you roll up in these? Felt letters and numbers? Felt pizza and toppings? Felt faces? Felt tic-tac-toe? So many ideas, so little time...

Further reading: DIY felt bows